Day 03 - Chios - Rocket War!!

Chios Travel Blog

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Lagadas, our stop for lunch.

We treated ourselves to a bit of a sleep in today.   We had intended to get up early and go for a jog but as it turned out we still struggled to get out of bed in time to hire a scooter. We’d arranged the previous day to meet the shop owner at about 10am – he was to have a scooter ready for us.  We arrived at about 10:40 and there was no sign of him.  Whilst Mish waited, I set of in search of fluids – as the Red Wine, Ouzo and G&T of the night before had partially dehydrated my brain I was feeling it a bit.  We paid 30 euros to hire a 50cc scooter for 2 days.  Bargain.  Before we set off though, we stuck to our “health kick” guns and went for a run.  Nothing too strenuous but enough to blow the cobwebs out and build up a little sweat.

The 4 windmills I was photographing just before we met a real friendly local

Once we showered, it was well past midday before we hit the road.  We set off north along the coast in search of the town of Vrantados, which would host the Rocket War later in the evening.  Half an hour later we pulled up at a seaside Village of Lagadas.  A quick check of the map showed that we’d overshot Vrantados by about 15kms .. but we were having such a great time zipping about on the scooter and we’d found a great little spot for lunch, we weren’t the least bit concerned.

Michelle makes a new friend
  Lagadas was beautiful.  The sun was out, local families had filled all the ocean front tavernas and one place was even playing live greek music, which had all the oldies up dancing amongst the tables. 

We ordered a greek salad, grilled cheese, grilled octopus and shrimp in a tomato sauce.  All good food and not bad for 30 euros (including non-alcoholic drinks and tip).  When we’d finished our meal we joined all the local kids in throwing bread into the sea (which we were sat right next to) to feed the fish (schools of mackerel or something similar).  They had the water boiling with activity.  The only thing which seemed to deter them was the occasional firework which was lobbed in by some of the local lads.

Some of the rocket warriors take aim during the early evening
  A small precursor to what was to come later in the evening. 

We spent over 2 hours in Lagadas and when we left it was around 4:30pm.  Figuring we still had plenty of time, we continued on North where we passed a number of other little villages and really tested our 50cc beast on some steep inclines.  Come 5pm we turned back and covered in the 24km return trip in good time, stopping at a grocery store to buy some basics for breakfast the next day.  I stopped to take a shot of a few windmills across the road and drew the attention of an old greek man who decided Mish and I presented a great chance for him to practice his rusty English.  Admittedly, he knew way more English than we did Greek (not hard) but his friendliness grew a little tiredsome when he insisted upon showing us up and down each isle of the store – pointing out products, naming them in Greek and then asking how we’d describe them in English.  Mish was extremely patient – until he sprayed a face full of mens frangrance in her eyes.  Classic. He was extremely embarrassed and apologetic.  Mish was shocked and did a great job of covering up her frustration by trying to laugh it off.  Once I was certain Mish hadn’t gone blind from the macing she’d been given, I laughed my head off.  Crazy old codger.

We were told the rocket war didn’t start until late, so we spent the early evening wandering down the harbour, doing a spot of shopping – as we’d been advised that most places would be closed for the next couple of days.  We picked up a chocolate easter egg – to get in the festive spirit and a couple of products from the mastic shop.  When it comes to mastic gum, I’ve got two words for you “don’t bother”.  I can think of other words to describe it .. but my mum’s gonna read this.  13 euros for something that tastes like burnt tree bark.  Definitely the first time we’ve been had on this trip!!

Neither of us could be bothered with a draw out, sit down meal – so it was time to sample another Greek Speciality – the kebab.  Never seen them wrapped in a cone-like fashion before and I’ve never seem them stuffed with chips and mustard before.  It worked though … and you’ve got to be happy when 2 kebabs, a serve of chips and coke comes to 6.60.  Bargain!!

Once we’d polished off dinner we had a short rest in our room before rugging up and hitting the road to Vrantados.  The police had started to block off a lot of the roads, but luckily we managed to fluke our way up towards to top of the hill.  Once the traffic got too dense we pulled our scooter over to the side of the road and settled in to watch the action.  The locals aren’t happy to just watch the show though.  Everyone had to take part in it – by bringing their own fireworks along.  We’d only been there a couple of minutes when a big firework that was obviously supposed to at the end of rocket, exploded at ground level in the bush 50m to our right.  Shortly thereafter, there was a small fire.  A minute later there was a much larger fire and loads of people running around trying to put it out by belting it with towels.  They must have put it out because it didn’t turn into a bushfire the fire department (which took about 30 minutes to arrive) just kept driving past.  The rocket war itself was cool.  The two churches are only a few hundred meters apart and the rockets were being launched from the roofs of  house in front of each.   Each side seemed to fire a rocket intermittently, perhaps one or two each minute, I assume whilst they were setting their aim.  Then, hundreds would be launched within seconds of each other showering the church on the other side of the town with sparks and fire. 90% of the rockets missed the churches completely, falling short or overshooting.  In each case, probably landing in someone’s yard and threatening to burn their house to the ground.  It was hard to focus on the rocket war though, as there were fireworks going off all around us.  In fact, our vantage point allowed us to see all the way across to Chios town centre (6km to the south) and it was awash with fireworks too. Great fun – but I’d be amazed if someone wasn’t seriously injured.  Its complete and utter madness.  Were I 18 again I would have been doing everything in my power to get involved.  However, at 30 years of age – and with 8 months of travel in front of me – all I could think of was enjoying the spectacle from afar as escaping the war zone without major injury.  I’m happy to say – Mission accomplished.  Just after midnight (when everyone went nuts and launched loads of fireworks simultaneously all over the island) we jumped back on the scooter and rode back to our room.  The heater and a warm, soft bed were very welcome indeed.

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Lagadas, our stop for lunch.
Lagadas, our stop for lunch.
The 4 windmills I was photographin…
The 4 windmills I was photographi…
Michelle makes a new friend
Michelle makes a new friend
Some of the rocket warriors take a…
Some of the rocket warriors take …
photo by: JP-NED